The small world of graphene

European researchers are investigating how graphene could boost the properties of thermoplastic components. Lou Reade reports.

Graphene is the new wonder material that will give us space elevators, nano-scaled microcircuits and impossibly light aircraft. At least, that’s the theory. For now, the material simply holds lots of promise, and is still very much a laboratory curiosity. But this potential has led many research teams to investigate how graphene might be moved out of the laboratory and into the world of engineering.

A new pan-European research project called Nanomaster aims to develop new methods to make graphene (and similar nano-scaled carbon compounds) and incorporate it into thermoplastics, in an attempt to boost physical properties.

“It’s the combination of electronic, thermal and mechanical properties that is of interest,” says Ben Hargreaves, senior project manager at Nanomaster’s coordinator NetComposites. “If we wanted to improve any one of these properties, there are other ways of doing it. But graphene can do all three, allowing multi-functional property enhancement.”

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Co-founder and Co-Executive Director, Graphene Stakeholders Association